“That’s the fourth bathroom visit this morning. What are they doing? There is only two of them.” I say to my wife sounding perplexed.
We are staying in a small two bedroom B&B in Maastricht, one of those ones where you have to share the bathroom with the other guests and for the last hour and a half that bathroom has been occupied by the couple staying in the room above us. Every time we think they have finished and returned to their room they sneak back down the creaky stairs and lock themselves inside again before we can make a move despite it being directly opposite our bedroom.
But they will not get away with the same trick again. Oh no. Not this time. Because we have just formed a plan. A plan that cannot fail.
We wait silently and listen. When we hear them leave the bathroom, creep back up the stairs and close their door we spring into action. My wife quickly opens our door and I dash out of the bedroom, across the hall, into the empty bathroom, slam the door behind me and lock myself inside. Stage one of the plan is complete.
A short while later, once I have finished showering and brushing my teeth I get ready to execute the second part of the plan. I know that cannot give them an opportunity to sneak back into the bathroom when they hear me exit. I unwrap my phone from the towel in which it had been concealed and began to text my wife.
“Are you ready?”
I hear her phone bleep from our bedroom across the hall as she receives ‘the signal’.
“Yes!” My phone beeped back in reply.
“On three,” I reply. There is another bleep from across the hall.
This is the moment. I take a breath, slowly put my hand around the handle of the closed door and begin the countdown.
With the precision of a highly trained SWAT team both doors are flung open at the same time. We begin to dash forward, ready to pass each other and dive through the opposite doors, my wife clutching her hair care products and me clutching a towel that doesn’t fully cover myself.
But this does not happen. I stop dead as soon as I have taken the first step, frozen mid sprint. Something has gone horribly wrong. Something very wrong indeed. Standing there, in the middle of the hallway between us is a very startled looking Dutchman, clutching his towel to his chest for dear life as if it is the only defence against the semi-naked Englishman (me) now standing in the open door way in front of him, looking like he is about to attack. The man is terrified. It does not seem to relax him either when he slowly looks back and notices the mad, bed hair woman (my wife) in the opposite doorway about to flank him with a bottle of shampoo and conditioner.
We simply stand there looking at each other, frozen in place for what feels like an eternity in a very bizarre Mexican stand-off, waiting for someone to make the first move. Eventually I nervously mumble an apology and slide aside to let him into the bathroom while trying to keep the towel in place and not inadvertently show which part of my body the just too small towel is not successfully covering.
As he enters the bath room and closes the door behind himself I quickly cross the hall and shoo my wife back through the bedroom doorway so that we can hide. Just before I close the door I hear the shower start up again.
We both look at each other. How were we ever going to live this down? Had he heard the exchange of text beeps across the hall before ‘the attack’? What must he have thought the moment both doors suddenly flew open and two people lunged forward? Had we just traumatise a man for life? Could we ever visit Maastricht again?
But then I realized something.
“What the hell.” I mouth to my wife. “That’s their fifth shower visit.”
Later it was followed by a sixth.